Buck Island Pond Trail is a short two mile hike located in the Goethe State Forest. The Goethe State Forest is in the central western half of Florida. US 19 runs through the western area of the forest and all amenities can be accessed from this main highway in Florida. Buck Island Pond Trail is on CR 337 directly off of US 19.
Buck Island Pond Trail is just a small section of the Goethe State Forest, yet it holds on of the most diverse and localized variety of carnivorous plants in Florida. That’s right, plants that eat insects! North Carolina is the only state east of the Mississippi River that holds more carnivorous plants. But with Buck Island Pond Trail, the localization is very small and these plants can only be found here in this forest.
Buck Island Pond Trail is an ecosystem dominated by flat woods and slash pine on the eastern half of the pond and a transition zone between a wetland prairie on the western side that holds the carnivorous pitcher plants.
Saw palmettos and long leaf pines are a great place to see the Red-Cockaded woodpecker, a rare and endangered species of very large woodpeckers. The rare gopher tortoise makes many a home her along the trail and their holes can be seen in various places along the well marked trail.
Several picnic tables are available at scenic locations halfway around each side of the trail, allowing you the perfect opportunity to sit and relax, eat a lunch and take some nice pictures. Great open views provide ample photo locations while your stuff stays safe at a picnic table.
At one point along the western half of the trail, remnants of a turpentine industry can be found. Slash pines are called that because of their slashed faces from turpentine factories. Called “cat faces”, these marks that resemble the eyes of cats can still be found in some areas of the forest and traces of the clay pots that held the pine sap can be found throughout the area.
This hidden gem of Florida’s west coast is run by the Department of Forestry. They can be reached at 352-465-8585 for more info on the park and its other recreational opportunities.